The extended Lunar New Year holiday is ending in China and as more than 150 million people head back to work the threat of the Coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19 by the WHO (World Health Organization), is still causing shipping delays and capacity issues. Though shippers, suppliers, manufacturing and transportation workers are returning, the impact on logistics has yet to be measured.
Ocean freight – With more than two dozen blanked sailings in the past two weeks, ocean carriers are working to catch back up on cargo that’s been waiting at ports and shippers since the holiday shutdown started on January 25th. We can expect shortages on equipment as traffic starts to move, especially impacting reefer containers that have been held at ports, idling to maintain their cargo. Most carriers are working to update their customers on service outages and individual messages can be found here:
Air Freight – Facing capacity issues and an ever increasing load of urgent cargo that could have gone by ocean but has been delayed, carriers are trying to move cargo, but finding that picking up or delivering to mainland China is precarious at best. Some areas like Shanghai are moving smoothly, all things considered. Other areas, in outlying provinces are having trouble as quarantine laws and health risks are keeping trucks from being able to cross through and traffic is reduced to approved trucks only. In those cases, we’re working directly with suppliers preferred companies who are able to move more freely in many cases.
With demand falling as fears rise, American Airlines has suspended flights between the US and China until late April, adjusting as necessary. Reuters has an excellent alphabetical listing of the airlines who have cancelled / reduced service to and from China that we suggest bookmarking.
We’ll continue to bring updates as they come in but urge customers to contact their suppliers for the most updated information regarding the factory hours and labor shortages.